NPA assassin tagged as Bicol's No. 2 fugitive surrenders

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

February 27, 2024, 11:47 am Updated on February 27, 2024, 4:53 pm

<p>(Photo courtesy of CIDG)</p>

(Photo courtesy of CIDG)

MANILA – A top assassin of the communist New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to government forces, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) reported Tuesday.

In a statement, CIDG chief Maj. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. said the suspect identified only as "Jose Maria" surrendered to the Philippine Army's 903rd Infantry Battalion in Barangay San Rafael, Castilla, Sorsogon on Feb. 23.

The CIDG then proceeded to the area and served the arrest warrant against the suspect, who is wanted for three counts of illegal possession of firearms by the Sorsogon City Regional Trial Courts Branches 52 and 54.

Caramat said "Jose Maria", also Bicol's top 2 most wanted person, serves as the commanding officer of the NPA's Special Partisan Unit (SPARU) Provincial Unit Guerilla (PYG) under its Bicol Regional Party Committee.

"Ang pagsuko ni “Jose Maria” ay isang patunay na epektibo ang kampanya ng ating gobyerno sa paghimok sa ating mga rebelde na magbalikloob at magtiwala sa mabuting hangarin ng pamahalaan (The surrender of "Jose Maria" is a proof that our government's campaign is effective in encouraging our rebels to return to the fold of the law and trust the government's good intentions," he added.

15K Reds surrender since 2022

In a separate statement, Philippine National Police chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. said a total of 15,092 NPA members have surrendered to authorities from 2022 up to Jan. 31 this year.

These rebels also were also provided with various forms of assistance through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Acorda, meanwhile, said the government has also reaped gains in its campaign against terrorism following the recent surrender of Pablo Alic, a member of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group, and the arrest of terrorism financing facilitator Myrna Ajilul Mabanza.

“These accomplishments contribute to the diligent work of dismantling terrorist networks and disrupting the flow of funds that support acts of terror. These developments underscore the effectiveness of our resolute military operations in the fight against terrorism,” he added.

More clashes seen

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said it expects more encounters against NPA rebels.

"Yes, tuluy tuloy tayo (we will continue), we are in pursuit operations. Our troops are focused and are determined to finish the insurgency problem once and for all," AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

She said continued operations against the NPA were ordered by the President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. during the command conference in early January.

"When we had our Command Conference, there was already a standing order from our President, and our Chief of Staff, to finally end the insurgency problem within the year. Now, we're well within the target. We have to deliver because, yun nga, kailangan na nating tapusin ito (we have to end this) because we have bigger challenges ahead in terms of our shift towards external defense," Padilla said. (with Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)